How do you get over dating app fatigue?

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When the global pandemic broke out, and lockdowns began to confine everyone to their homes, the chances of running into someone at a coffee shop, bar or at the office diminished and dating apps became one of the only ways to find love.

In March 2020,Tinder reported that in a single day they experienced three billion swipes - its highest number ever. And the app continued to break records. Conversations on Tinder were 32% longer and people matched 42% more often.

Bumble says the video call feature was used 70% more, and Hinge saw a 63 percent rise in the number of people downloading the app - its revenues tripled.

But when dating options opened up from Zoom and socially distanced walks, did online relationships work in the real world? And has dating app fatigue hit?

In the new BBC Three show, Love In The Flesh, five couples who have only ever spoken to each other online via dating apps or social media meet in real life for the very first time.


Zara McDermott, the show’s presenter and a former Love Island contestant, says some couples have been speaking for years, others months or weeks.

"The idea is they’re dating app experts, they have met a lot of people online but they’ve established these connections [with the other person] and they want to pursue it. How can those connections survive without any distractions, no access to dating apps or their phones, just them in a beautiful beach house?"

Zara says the show is important because following the pandemic people were dating online more than ever, with dating apps being people’s “saving graces” over the last two years.

“Having a show that’s representative of that, and then being able to do a social experiment where these solid online connections see if they can work in the real world, was really fitting,” she adds.

“My biggest take away was that there was an expectation from almost every couple going in that it would work because they had such a strong online connection… On the surface, it seems like they’re quite solid, but put them in a scenario where they have to communicate effectively in person, they have to voice how this relationship is going to work - that poses a lot of problems.”


Polly Shute noticed that the aftermath of coronavirus was making it harder than ever for queer women to make meaningful connections. She says that venue closures has resulted in there being fewer queer bars in the UK.

“Real life meeting at events allows for queer women to find people with common interests. It’s less intimidating and demoralising than apps,” she says.

In order to provide a safe and supportive place to meet, Polly has set up a summer festival, Out & Wild, for LGBTQ+ people.

“The experience market was already growing prior to lockdown, and our research shows that queer women want to try new experiences. Having a safe and supportive space to do this is really important, especially for those who are trans and non-binary,” Polly adds.

For Will Waterfield dating apps have become boring and tiresome. “It can feel like a grind at times,” he says.

“You have to keep using your daily swipe limit to try desperately to find someone instead of leaving it alone and letting life just happen.

“The longer the grind goes on, you can absolutely start to question, ‘what's wrong with me?’"


Relationship expert Lohani Noor says many people are suffering from dating app fatigue, especially as the world opens up again, and looking for new ways to meet people. She spoke to BBC Three about her tips for tackling this:

Work out what you want

“Before you think about meeting someone you need to think about what sort of relationship you want. Get clear about the qualities that you want, list it.

“List your non-negotiables, the things that if you see in real life it’s a deal breaker. Be selfish and honest about what you want.”

Five message rule

“I tell my clients you need to be meeting within five messages… The reason I say that is because what we do is, we fill in the gaps with our imagination so we project.

“Meet quickly so you don’t create a story in your head about who they are, because when we actually meet them we’re not even seeing the real person, you’re seeing the person you made up in your head and it can take a while for us to start to realise that this person is nothing like the person I’ve imagined them to be.”

Ask your friends to set you up

“There’s something that can feel quite shameful to ask your friends if they know anyone that’s single. But if you like your friends, you’re likely to like your friend’s friends.”

Try something new

“Go to speed dating or other single’s events. Meetups are brilliant because you’re going to do something you both like doing, so you’ve got a commonality and the focus is on what you’re doing as opposed to the pressure to know if you’re going to be compatible.”

Take a break

“Take a little break from dating, focus on friendships and reconnect with yourself and be back in the world. And really ask yourself those questions, what is it I’m looking for?”

“Also ask yourself, am I playing a game as well, am I putting forward a fake front, am I asking for something that doesn’t suit my personality, am I being true to myself?

“Because people sometimes go out to look for a perfect partner but the perfect partner is based on someone else’s reality.”

Love In The Flesh is on BBC Three on Wednesdays and Thursdays at 10pm and on BBC iPlayer.